Early Wednesday I woke at 2 am, plagued with a rare bout of insomnia. I have always been grateful that sleep has allowed me an easy respet the last 5 years, and having one night awake gives me so much empathy for those who battle with this on a regular basis. My mind was playing hopscotch, not staying on one thought for long, and then somehow making a connection and jumping to yet another box. It starts with to do lists, and the normal run of the mill items, and its fine. Suddenly, I land in a box I haven't visited in a while. A box that is hard. And real. And I am watching nurses search for Koen's heartbeat, and them telling me they had it. Another nurse coming in moving the monitor all over, making it seem as if its the monitors issue, and not my baby's problem. My doctor being called in from a Memorial Day picnic to deliver the news to us of Koen’s death. I hop again, trying to remember how my mom even got to my house from Chicago that day. Why do I need to remember that? Why do I feel the need to? Why are some things etched in my memory so vividly, and others so foggy? I want to remember everything, every detail, every moment. Its all I have.
I used to hopscotch through these memories while reading a book, (maybe that is why I haven't been able to complete a book in years .. too much mind space), or even mid-conversation with someone, typically at the most unexpected moments. Its been almost five years, and I don't go to that guttural painful place, a place I used to forced myself to replay almost daily - fearful then that if I stopped replaying the memories that his little hand would slip out of mine even further. I think of Koen every day. Every. Single. Day. But in different ways. He makes up part of me, my heart, my life, my outlook, my empathy, my faith. I am grateful to have moved, most days, from the ache in my heart, pit in my stomach place, to a place where peace and gratitude, for all three of my boys, resides. All three that I love beyond any earthly capacity.
Before I went to sleep Tuesday night, I learned of Barbara Bush's passing. I never knew that they had lost a 3-year-old daughter to leukemia. Tobin is three. Losing Koen was earth shattering, but if something was to take Tobin from me now ... after knowing the ache and pain that can exist, but only tasting it ... I cannot fathom how breathing would even be possible. Barbara brushed her daughters hair as she took her last breaths. The oldest child, George W, took on the role of lifting his mothers spirits while she was in the midst of her devastation. So Wednesday, in the early morning I read more of her life, while trying to escape my hopscotch, but it only made me jump in more boxes. Thinking of how excited Barbara must have been to see her daughter again. Thinking about the impact Koen’s death had in me, and then on Hackett, what role did he have to take on for me? How will that shape him as an adult? He loves me hard, and always makes sure I am okay ... even asking me today ... is this why? He knows I am not invincible, he's seen me on my knees, in and out of hospitals, hooked up to IVs, and tears in my eyes when it doesn't make sense.
I no longer reside in a dark and sad place, but those squares never go away. I will always jump to those memories, and relive the pain. Relive the beauty. And say goodbye to Koen, again, in the middle of the night. But on most days, most hours, most minutes ... it is well.
I am Jackie.